DURHAM, N.C. — The prosecution in the Mike Peterson case whittled down the pool of potential jurors to nine despite an early delay.
Five women and four men were selected by the prosecution to serve on the jury, which consists of five white members and four black members.
Of the nine people selected by the prosecution, one man is a computer expert while another is a financial expert. Both have expertise in areas the prosecution has mentioned in conjunction with the death of Peterson's wife, Kathleen. One of the women in the jury pool has two relatives who have been murdered and two others have relatives serving time in prison for murder.
District Attorney Jim Hardin eliminated three women from the pool, using a peremptory challenge. The prosecution and the defense each get six challenges.
"For one reason or another, maybe they don't like the way they're dressed, the way they part their hair -- it does not matter. You don't have to give a reason," attorney Ken Lockner said.
Jury selection hit a snag Thursday morning when a woman selected as a preliminary panel member failed to come to court on time.
The 12 potential jurors were supposed to arrive at the courthouse at 9:30 a.m. for final questioning by the prosecution, but one woman did not show up. After a deputy was sent out to find her, she arrived at the courthouse at 11:30 a.m. She told the judge that she did not have access to a phone and did not know she was supposed to appear in court.
Defense attorney David Rudolf said he is concerned about how the delay will affect potential jurors.
"I just don't think it's good for the process for jurors to feel that the court is not operating in an efficient way," he said.
The juror also said in court that her boyfriend has charges pending against him and will be prosecuted by the district attorney's office, so prosecutors asked that the juror be dismissed, and the judge granted their request.
The prosecution will question more potential jurors Friday. Once the district attorney finds an acceptable jury, the defense will get a chance to question them. They will then eliminate the people they do not want on the jury. The process will continue until both sides use up all their strikes or until they can agree on 12 people to sit in the jury box.
Peterson is a novelist charged with the slaying of his wife in December 2001. He has pleaded not guilty. Officials expect jury selection to take the rest of the month.